Opening Prayer: Acts 9.1-9 Review on Church Origin and Foundation and Facts about Acts (OR/GD) Early Lifestyle of the Church
FACTS ABOUT ACTS The Early Church by Michael C. Kelly, SJ
Introduction to ACTS: Jesus Realized that he was going to die that his followers needed divine assistance; He promised to sent them the Helper—the Holy Spirit. Aside from the four gospels that tell us about the life of Jesus in Palestine there is another book that tells of what happened after Jesus left His followers —the Acts of the Apostles.
The Book of ACTS: Describes the transition between Jesus and the Church. The title “ACTS” may not be the best name for this book for it doesn’t tell the story of what all apostles did after their death. However, there were two HEROES in the story—PETER and PAUL.
The Book of ACTS: Shows the followers of Jesus continuing his work: Preaching of the KOG Teaching and healing Concern for the poor and the needy Baptizing men and women in Jesus’ name Breaking of the bread
The Book of ACTS Sources: Access to memories and stories of the churches in Author: Compare Jerusalem and Antioch Luke 1:1-4 and Personal Encounter Acts 1:1-5 with St. Paul Date probably Personal Notes and written: around 70- Experiences 80 A.D.
Luke’s Purpose in Writing Acts To emphasize the importance of Jerusalem as the MOTHER Church, the seat of the apostles, and the doctrinal focal point of Christian missionary activity. To show the work of the Spirit guiding the spread of the WORD, forming the Christian community and bringing new members into the church.
The Coming of the Holy Spirit The great event in the transition from Jesus to the church was the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. It happened on Pentecost Sunday. Pentecost (Gk) means Fiftieth. For the Jews it was a FEAST which occurred SEVEN weeks (about 50 days) after the PASSOVER.
Theophany of God on Pentecost Day There was the appearance of FIRE touching the apostles; Thunder, Great Wind. These symbols were used in the O.T. to signify the presence of God (see Ex. 19:16ff and Deut. 4:9ff)
Importance of the Great Event Great Transformation occurred among the Believers: From timid and fearful to courageous missionaries The SPIRIT as the dynamic force moves the apostles to preach and witness to Jesus. In Short: the gift of the Pentecost marks the beginning of the era of the church and the beginning of the mission of the church. It is a new era in salvation history –the church under the guidance of the Spirit continues Jesus’ task of announcing the kingdom to all men.
Point for Reflection: If we only allow the Spirit of God to move in us we would do wondrous deeds. Of whose voice do we follow or listen today?
LIFETSTYLE IN THE EARLY CHURCH The first six chapters of Acts tell quite a bit about what life was like in the early community. It appears that the early Christians formed a close group around the apostles in Jerusalem. Accordingly, they learned from the apostles, took part in the fellowship and shared in the fellowship meals (early form of the Holy Eucharist)
LIFETSTYLE IN THE EARLY CHURCH It is interesting to note that the early community prayed in the Temple, the Jewish place of worship/prayer. It took some time for the early church to distinguish itself from the Jewish religion and Jewish practices. They were not called CHRISTIANS until the church had spread to ANTIOCH (Acts 11:25- 26). They were first called “THE WAY OF THE LORD” by some( Acts 9:1-2).
CHARACTERISTICS OF THE EARLY CHURCH COMMON PROPERTY The early believers shared their goods in common SACRAMENTAL BEGINNING The Three Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Eucharist) See Acts 2. 42-47 PERSECUTION Early followers of Jesus experienced persecution St. Stephen= First martyr saint of the Catholic church (Acts 6)
The First Sermons of Peter Read Acts 2:14-42 As soon the Holy Spirit had taken possession of the followers of Jesus, Luke narrates “Peter stood up with the other eleven apostles and in a loud voice began to speak the crowd…” (v.14) One should not think that the sermons in Acts were delivered exactly as they are found in the text.
Content of Acts Content of Acts A. Narration B. Discourses Unity of Luke and Acts Similarity between Peter and Paul Initial Address: 2,14-36 13,16-41 Cure of a lame man 3,1-10 14,8-10 Encounter with magicians 8,9-24 13, 6-11 Raising to life 9,36-42 20,7-12 In prison 12, 1-18 21,27-28,31
Saul known as Paul“The thirteenth disciple of Jesus” The Apostle to the Gentiles
Saul called Paul Basic sources Acts = Act of Conversion Letters/Epistles = Fact of Conversion Life of Saul before knowing Jesus Born in Tarsus Tribe of Benjamin; he is a Jew A Pharisee (teacher of the Law)
Saul called Paul He is a Roman Citizen Civil status (1 Cor. 7.8) Paul After conversion Read Acts 9.1-9 His conversion is exposed to the REAL PRESENCE of GOD.
CONVERSION means… a. Turning Away from b. Change of Heart and Mind
SAUL’S conversion involves… a. MORAL CONVERSION : turn away from sin b. SOCIAL CONVERSION: change of allegiance c. PERSONAL CONVERSION: change of values / outlook in life
SAUL’S three C’sa. CONFRONTATIONb. CONVERSIONc. COMMISSION
SAUL’S CONVERSION means… CHANGE of: a. ALLEGIANCE : from God of the Law to God of Love b. HEART: ways of thinking about God c. PRIORITIES: From selfish earthly desire to communal, universal good
Personal Reflections: What is my understanding about God or Jesus? Is my knowledge about Him correct? What are my priorities in life? Do I include God in those priorities? What have I done for Christ? What am I doing for Christ? What do I want to do for Christ?
READ Matthew 6:19-34 “But seek first the kingdom [of God] and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides”-v.33
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